Recovery Matters

Substance Abuse is like Relationships. And Relationships are Hectic!

Relationships. Don’t get me started. Oh well, too late. I’ve been thinking about relationships this past week.  My excellent therapist,  one of Houghton House’s counselling team, and I discussed the next stage in my recovery.Substance Abuse is like Relationships. And Relationships are Hectic!

Women. Or at least one. The One. She’s out there, according to some rather optimistic beliefs. The soul mate who, even now, wanders the world missing a crucial part of herself. Me.

And I her. Except that kind of view on relationships seems a bit unhealthy.

It’s my experience that being your own person is essential to a relationship working.

I know this because, like the great detective I am, of deduction. I had to deduct a lot in some of my relationships. Like dignity.

Allow me to tell you my tales of Woe.

Margaret was my first. Both girlfriend and cherry-popper. We popped each other’s cherries in a hotel in Cape Town. But she lived in JHB and I Durban, so when we parted ways, we tried keeping the relationship alive through saucy emails and longing phone calls. I was in Matric, but one course I failed was Not Being Needy 101.

Neediness along the lines of: “I HAVE A GIRLFRIEND! I HAVE A GIRLFRIEND!”. Neediness is the anti-oyster. It kills libido faster than a nuclear holocaust wipes out all forms of life1.

Neediness is a mental disease of sorts. It infects you with desperation, and a desire to keep appeasing the other half.

It also smothered my second relationship with that art student I mentioned two blogs ago. She ended up with a bartender who tenderised my heart. (I went there.)

Of course, it’s more complex than that.

My third relationship was with Nix. Nix as in “Not Happening”. That was a great relationship for two reasons:

(1). I kept some emotional distance so I was “Take It Or Leave It”.

(2). She was a former gymnast. OMG OMG OMG OMG2.

In her case, the relationship ended because she, I suspect, cheated on me during a December varsity break. But she never admitted to it, and I never asked. There was just this subtle change when we saw each other after the vac.

I tried getting intimate with her a few times after that, but she cold-shouldered me like she was one part South-Easterly. It certainly blowed. I knew she wanted out. Coward that she was, she expected me to deliver the death blow. Since my feelings for her had deepened, I didn’t want to.

Eventually, though, I had enough. I tried one last attempt. I bought a CD, popped it in her CD Player, and then she came into the room with our meal (she’s Italian, and a fantastic cook, perfect for a useless male like me. My culinary expertise is limited to pouring boiling water into a cup of noodles). As she did so, I hit the play button.

Barry crooned:

“My first, the last, my everything; and the answer to all my dreams; you’re my sun, my moon, my guiding star; my kind of wonderful, that’s what you are.”

I grinned and tried to harmonise with the baritone voice.

She merely rolled her eyes, sighed, and said, “Really?”

It was so wilting, my doctor prescribed little blue pills for the next six months.

Time to abort the relationship.

When I asked to meet with her, I felt so terribly sad, but said I think it’s best we move on.

She tried to keep from bursting into a fireworks display, and nodded sagely. “You’re a great guy. It was special, I don’t want you to think it was anything you did wrong.” Contextual translation: It was the way I fornicated with some random dude, and guilt, unfortunately, keeps me dry.

I merely shrugged.

Next was Elizabeth. She was the one that got away. Scientist. Blonde. Zimbabwean laid-back approach to life’s issues – such as not getting finicky and stressed about the little things.

There’s enough to write a book on her. Maybe one day I will. She was truly special. We kept running into each other during my fourth year of varsity. We’d been acquaintance-friends since first year. Finally, one night at a Grahamstown bohemian club, I got the courage to kiss her.

Of course, with me, I’m so shy and aware of boundaries, I don’t make the first move. Per se.

I first asked her to fill in a form:

I, Elizabeth Regal, HEREBY DECLARE THAT J.D ARENSTEIN MAY KISS ME IN A WAY THAT INVOLVES TONGUE.

IF I SO DESIRE, I WILL “HOOK UP” WITH HIM, AND ENGAGE IN:

 

HUGGING

FONDLING OF MAMMARY TISSUES

CUNN*******

FEL*****

A NUMBER MADE UP OF TWO INVERTED DIGITS

INTERCOURSE / COUPLING / WHOOPEE

 

[PLEASE NOTE: “GREEK” IS NOT AN AVAILABLE SERVICE]

I MAY STOP AT ANY TIME I CHOOSE TO, EVEN IN THE MIDDLE OF ANY ACTIVITY. I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE DRIVEN HOME AT ANY MOMENT I SO DESIRE, IF HE IS ON DATE DRIVING DUTY.

I ALSO:

CAN DECLINE FURTHER CONTACT OF ANY INTIMATE ACTIVITY AT FUTURE DATES AND TIMES. I RESERVE THE RIGHT NOT TO BE STALKED. BUT HAVE THE RIGHT TO A DECENT LET-DOWN IF I DO WANT TO CONTINUE ACTIVITIES AND J.D DOESN’T. I DON’T HAVE TO FEEL GUILTY OR GUILTED INTO ENGAGING “NAUGHTY” ACTIVITIES, AND MAY DECLARE AT ANY TIME A DISCOMFORT WITH ANY SITUATION THAT MAY LITERALLY OR FIGURATIVELY ARISE.

[SIGN HERE] E.R

[PLEASE PRINT NAME] ELIZABETH REGAL

[DATE] 7 Aug 2002

[PLACE] Pop Art Café, Rhodes

[TIME] Business time! Whoop whoop!

[WITNESS 1] AF

[WITNESS 2] SM

THANK YOU FOR YOUR BOOTY, AND IF YOU ENJOY MY SERVICING, PLEASE LEAVE A FIVE-STAR RATING WITH ALL THE WOMEN YOU KNOW*.

Once the paper work was out the way, we gazed into each other’s eyes and our lips melted together. It was so sickeningly sweet, once we finished we saw vom on the dance floor.

It was a saccharine romance, but over a December break, again, something changed. This time, the woman I cared for told me the truth. Another man had arrived in her life at Harare. We tried continuing our relationship, but – although he was gone in presence – his spectre cast an enveloping shadow over it.

I didn’t think I’d ever be as heart-broken as I was after her. Until Basil, my little white cat, was wasting away from a terminal disease, and I put him into that eternal sleep.

Finally, my most recent relationship. Annie. We met at Rhodes, but nothing happened. Well, something almost happened, but I didn’t get to the form-filling pre-sexual admin before some other guy swooped in. Like Batman. A c@ck-blocking Batman.

However, thanks to the greatest stalkers’ tool known to humankind, Facebook, I reconnected with her. Years and years later. We flirted a lot over the medium. We chatted every day on Gmail. Then we got to that stage of what once was sending scented letters, but now involves, um, pictures.

She lived in Durban, I JHB (by this time). So I went to visit her. Wanted to make this official.

The first night we met for coffee, I was shyer than a deer in the cool darkness of a forest. A deer so shy, if caught in headlights, it would spring away screaming something about personal space a mile long. I could hardly look at her, though I wanted to: she was so beautiful.

Two nights later, we were at a restaurant, both dressed to the nth degree. As we walked out, she sighed, but sweetly, and said, “Looks like I’m going to have to make the first move.” Once she took my hand, and we co-guided each other onto the streets, the making out wasn’t far behind. We only came up for air when a car guard started a round of applause. So, liiiiiike, South African romcom.

Two years later, and things weren’t working out. She had fallen out of love with me, Back to the Nix. This time, I couldn’t, because I loved her so much, find it in my heart to kill the relationship. If she wanted to, then she had to do it.

Took her three more months to do just that.

Unlike Elizabeth and some of my other ex GFs, she refuses to talk to me. I’m not entirely sure why. But some women, (and I guess men too), have a way of keeping a record. A permanent record of your f@#k-ups. Or perceived f@#k-ups. I often felt when the metaphorical mole dug its way back home, a monumental mountain awaited it. We sometimes fought, and it normally ended with me apologising. Well, grovelling. She said she was fine, it was over, apology accepted. But, haha, in this record book of hers, it was a black mark, never to be forgotten. And over time, those marks added up. Eventually I got blacklisted. We’re talking small offenses here, if true offenses at all, but like speeding 20 kph over the limit, they still count and they still add up, and eventually, well, you lose your license to get busy with it. No Barry White can bail you out of this one.

So, yeah, she doesn’t talk to me. Like I slept with all her best friends while at a Toga party, recorded the action, and posted it on BlueTube (I think that’s what the site’s called, wouldn’t know lol ahem). Then sent the link to all her family and work colleagues.

Nope. I was just myself, and eventually, her attempts to tweak me into her idea of a better version failed. Frustrated her, because I didn’t get out of alpha state.

Rejection, and not in the romantic sense, but as a person, hurts when once you cuddled nude in the night, talking about your dreams, your pain, your lives past and lives to come. The intimacy closer than you ever share with another. Destroyed. In the end, it meant nothing.

Like that dead rock dude said, it doesn’t even matter…

We go on.

My therapist, one of the best in her field, knows exactly what I need to hear. She’s preparing me for a woman out there, someone I haven’t met yet, someone who may be The One4. Helping me develop tools and grow as a person for the responsibility of loving another, romantically.

She said, “I imagine you ending up with someone intelligent, calm, and understanding. Someone beautiful, someone who won’t be like Annie, because she’ll be in love with who you are. Not who she expects you to be.”

My therapist’s words ring true. So, after our session, I went home, loaded up my laptop, and did something I haven’t done in a very long time.

I printed out a form. One that’s waiting to be filled in.

Waiting to be dated. Waiting to be witnessed.

Waiting to be signed.

 

 

 

  1. Except for f@#king roaches. Motherf@#kers.
  2. I used to say exactly that during our “privates”3 moments.
  3. ”Privates” time. See what I did there? We wanted lots of “privates-cy”. Haha. Oh God, these puns make me so happy.
  4. Perhaps a MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod? If so, she can certainly handle my sword.

 

IMAGE: The End of the Affair. Copyright: J.D.

 

 

 

 

 

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